Obituary of Françoise Ludlow | Libraries


My friend Frances Ludlow, who died of lung cancer at the age of 68, worked as a librarian at the University of Sheffield for almost 30 years. She suffered from multiple sclerosis for 20 years and volunteered with the MS Society. She endured ill health with stoicism and benevolence, but recently commented on the injustice of it all.

Frances was the youngest of four children, born in Liverpool to Clare (née Reynolds), a nurse, and Stan Ludlow, a teacher. The family moved to Formby where Frances attended Seafield High School. She trained as a therapeutic radiologist at the Royal Sheffield Hospital, working at the Weston Park Cancer Treatment Center.

She and I became friends in 1975 when we were involved in the Justice and Peace Network and worked as play volunteers at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Sheffield. I moved into the bedroom above hers and knew she was there when Leonard Cohen buzzed through the planks. Our owner complained when debate activists spilled out from our studios to the landings. Frances pointed out to her that it was for charity “and charity begins at home”, but her response was “Not in this house, it is not!” “

In 1978, Frances and I traveled overland to Delhi via Afghanistan and Iran, countries rich in culture before the devastation that followed. Arriving in Calcutta, she insisted that we volunteer with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, working for several months to care for the abandoned babies. Traveling to Burma and Thailand, we returned to the UK after a year of adventures.

Frances converted to a librarian at Aberystwyth University and then worked at the University of Sheffield Health Sciences Library from 1986 until her retirement in 2013. A doctoral student said she was the best librarian ever. An ex-coworker described her as a kind, gentle soul who could be mischievous. She once came to a red party dressed in blue, with green hair. She was standing in Red Square, Moscow, asking the grave guards, “Is Len here?” “

Just before her librarian course, Frances graduated with a theology degree from the University of Southampton, earning first in all of her assignments. When asked, she described herself as a Gnostic of Heracleon with a Buddhist touch. She was a mystic, lover of crystals and meditation, having a strong belief in the good of humanity but a realistic view of their shortcomings. She loved her own company, was a fan of Liverpool FC and radio cricket commentary. Frances was generous, kind, intelligent, courageous, a good friend but not a saint because she could be boring and stubborn.

Frances is survived by her brother, Mark, her sisters, Claire-Mary and Ann, four nephews, Safy, Aloui, Dani, Liam and a niece, Arabella.